Can You Work in Fashion Without Studying a Fashion Degree?

October 21, 2018

The fashion industry’s biggest names come from a plethora of different backgrounds and educations.

Is a fashion degree worth the money in 2018? As a new wave of students enrol and apply to colleges, i-D and 1 Granary take a closer look at fashion education and beyond, to better understand how to make it in one of the toughest industries to crack.

What should I study if I want to work in fashion? It’s a question that many have asked, yet the answer is often different depending who you ask.

Choosing your university degree is already a hard choice, given that there are so many different things to study. What do you do if you enjoy Greek mythology as much as photography, gothic fiction as much as fashion, and feminist theory as much as art? How do you choose the world that straddles your interests the most? And do you need to study at an LFC or a CSM over a Manchester or an Edinburgh if you want to end up in fashion?

In truth, it seems like there is no simple route to help you get started in the industry, as experience gained on placements are often as beneficial as information learnt at school, and stories of achievement often focus on the journey, not the degree course. Nevertheless it will always be daunting to pursue a career in fashion without having spent time at a design college.

It’s of some comfort, then, to find that industry leaders are from a smorgasbord of backgrounds that have led to their point of success.

In general you will find that writers are most likely to have taken academic degrees, choosing drôle fashion for its playful content before becoming hooked with the formidable industry. See Cathy Horyn, the former chief fashion critic of The New York Times.

There are editors like the late Vogue Italia editor-in-chief, Franca Sozzani, who read literature and philosophy at university, and former British Vogue editor-in-chief Alexandra Shulman, who studied social anthropology. Schulman spent several years working for an independent record label, before deferring to journalism.

Then there are editors who left school when they were 16, having worked ever since. Lorraine Candy from The Sunday Times’ Style fits into this category, having started her career as a teenager at The Cornish Times, as did David James, previous creative director of AnOther Magazine and founder of agency DJA, who worked for a design agency in Edinburgh before “shifting focus to fashion in the 90s.

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